Credibility on the Web

July 23, 2008

(Part 1)

Most business owners in the 21st Century recognize the need for a web presence. However, in an effort to put yourself out there, be sure you build in credibility as you build your site. Here are some guidelines for building your web presence.

Purchase your own Domain. Don’t be http://www.YourCompany.AnotherDomain.com. Having your business at it’s own domain is best. Avoid hyphens if possible. If you use them (as I did) you will need to tell everyone your web address is ch(DASH)enterprises.com If your business domain name is taken use your own name (if you are a solo entrepreneur providing a service), use an acronym like GMC.com, or use something uniquely descriptive of your products, “GizmoGuru.com” (Since GarysGizmos.com was taken).

Use an email address of YOU @ YourDomain.com (net, biz, tv… what have you). If you prefer receiving your web based mail on AOL, Yahoo! or Gmail (or any OTHER address – have the email forwarded). Always send business correspondence from your domain. In many cases you can do this from your web based email. For example my email provider is AT&T and my web email interface is through Yahoo! I can also send from within Yahoo! With the “from address” being Cheryl @ ch-enterprises.com.

Having a physical address and phone number gives you credibility. People may not even be aware that this is important when they look at your site. Even if you are a completely virtual business, it is exceedingly important from a business standpoint to include a physical address and phone number. If you are a solopreneur working from home you may want to invest in something like Ring Central switchboard with the ability to forward to your home or cell phone. You can even have VOIP service and take your phone with you in the form of your laptop. Answering services like Ruby Receptionists provide state of the art receptionist, giving your small company a big company feel.

Provide a real, up to date picture of your business, yourself and/or your officers. Include at least a short bio about who you are in and out of the office. This gives readers the sense that they are relating to another human being just like them.

Business websites should be no frills, fast loading, and easy to navigate. These websites are not the place to show-off the cool technological things you can do on the web. Even if that is the type of business you have, keep that sort of thing to a minimum and on a separate portfolio page.

I recently visited a website that was supposed to be fun put together about these authors of fiction novels. Initially the site was intriguing, the premise inviting. But the fancy page turning java script got in the way of what was being presented. With rare exceptions (and always with a clear option to turn it off), business websites should never include music or other loud sounds.

If you have articles or others have written about your business, site them. A business website is not the place to show off all your cool friend’s websites. It’s a business space as much as your office is. Be sure to only connect with credible sources.

Think of your website and email addresses as business tools. How do they look to someone that knows nothing of you or your business. Stay professional, be consistent and project credibility.


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